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Help with improving scanned negatives

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  • Help with improving scanned negatives

    I need some helping with getting a better looking result from some scanned 35mm negatives.

    I am scanning 35mm negatives (KodaColor II) from 1980.
    I am using an OpticFilm 7600i and VueScan to capture.
    I found a nice workflow that involves using VueScan to produce a "raw" file and then using CFSystems ColorPerfect plugin for Photoshop to "develop" the image.

    This works pretty well, but I have a few roles from the Grand Canyon and the result I am getting is hazy and looks like crap compared to how my brain remembers the scene.

    I have attached the result from running the ColorPerfect filter.
    The colors don't look too great from that, so I used a Threshold layer to find the black/white points and then a Curves adjustment to set the black/white point. I then did a 50% gray layer to hopefully fix the white balance. That got me to the second image.

    I think the colors on the second image are closer to the real thing, but the image is really lacking something. Can someone gives me some things to try next? I think there is a reasonable amount of information in the scan, I just can't bring it out.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Help with improving scanned negatives

    Kodacolor II from the 80's is very prone to color shifts due to degradation of the emulsion over time. Typically the shifts cause the image to have a strong blue cast. Having scanned thousands of frames from the same film and same period my experience has been that none of the "one-click" color adjustment utilities / filters does an adequate job. Using curves to set black & white spots rarely works and most of the time makes images look much worse. Kodak sold a Photoshop plugin called Digital ROC which it developed specifically to color adj scans of its negative film. Support for it stopped after Kodak went bankrupt.
    After trying a great many trick and options, I found the most effective solution to be a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. HOWEVER, you need to apply it to a RAW scan, no other filters or pre-processing. In fact the best results of any digitization of negative film, is to take a raw scan at the best scanner resolution, and turn OFF all auto adjustments > No Auto Brightness, No Auto Color, No Descreen, No Noise Reduction, No Auto anything. Save as a 16 bit TIFF in a wide color gamut like AdobeRGB or ProPhoto. Post process as required, then noise reduce, convert color space, and resize or save a copy as jpg. The only auto that I would do during scanning is to use Digital ICE if you scanner and scanning s/w can do it. While it doubles the scan time, it saves huge amounts of time cloning out dust spots then emulsion pinholes,
    One final note: Most of the time when I photographed above the Grand Canyon, it actually was hazy in the sky even though the brain trick the eyes into thinking it is not. When you are all finished editing and want to get rid of the haze, apply a strong sharpening to the luminance of the image. This can be done one of two ways.
    1. Filter>Sharpem> Smart Sharpen (or Unsharp Mask) immediately followed by Edit>Fade Smart Sharpen setting the Blend Mode to Luminosity
    2. Temporarily convert the image from RGB to LAB color and apply strong sharpening to the L (lightness) Channel.
    Cheers, Murray


    • #3
      Re: Help with improving scanned negatives

      I don't find the ColorPerfect color to be terrible, perhaps a bit yellow.

      I have no idea of your landscape aesthetic, I prefer richer tones myself. I find a simple curve set makes a nice global improvement. Then I'd get to work a bit more locally.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Re: Help with improving scanned negatives

        Thanks for the input from everyone. The scanning workflow is pretty much what I am doing.

        I found a Digital ROC filter download and tried that. I have attached the results. It blew out the sky, but I tried it on some other shots and it did a pretty good job. Especially considering a couple of clicks and done. I could probably save the sky with some masking or tweaking the Digital ROC settings.

        It seems like ColorPerfect should be able to do the same thing so I don't have to pay $100 for Digital ROC. But figuring out that ColorPerfect user interface, geesh, what was the programmer thinking?

        I also like the curves approach. I tried that on some other shots and that works well also. I agree the richer tones look much better.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: Help with improving scanned negatives

          Selective color matching with another pic.
          Attached Files
          Last edited by chillin; 11-11-2014, 08:18 PM.